CCW San Antonio 2023

Author: Simon Black | Date: 06/02/2023

Firstly, I would like to apologise.

They say us Brits take the bad weather with us wherever we go and boy was that the case last week in San Antonio, Texas!

I was there with the team for CCW’s Winter event and despite the weather it was a really valuable conference.

Lots of ideas and energy around the shape of customer experience in the future. And some excellent networking opportunities.

I hope everyone we met and the organising team got home safe and sound.

Back to the drawing board

The thing that struck me most was the number of people we spoke to who are going back to the drawing board with their whole CX and contact center strategy.

In terms of the contact center (our area of expertise), I think there are four core reasons for this:

  1. Some of the big telephony vendors are end-of-life legacy products
  2.  Technology has come on by leaps and bounds in the last two to three years
  3.  Much larger appetite to adopt Cloud services
  4.  CX has become the core competitive battleground

It’s true, the likes of Genesys are moving large swathes of their customer base onto new versions of their products that are cloud-enabled. This is great for us as it makes the combination of our technologies that much stickier and streamlined.

Banking and FS in particular seemed to be making this move.

And the audience at CCW seemed really knowledgeable about what they wanted from their tech stack. Many are realising the performance and efficiency gains that can be made by automating services, guiding agents and backing it all up with data.

Hiring new people is still really hard

I won’t dwell on this point for too long.

The contact center is really struggling to find new agents at the moment. A combination of changing attitudes post-pandemic and the economic climate, is making it really tough to recruit.

Technology can help though. By making it easier to train new agents (see below) and helping to keep those agents you do have while you tackle the extended hiring cycle.

Cloud adoption is on the increase

Moving to the Cloud is a reason in itself to think about the core CX strategy. As I highlighted above.

But more than that, many of the people we spoke to had a cloud-first mentality, which is a real shift in mindset in my view.

We know the global economic situation is squeezing some bottom lines and therefore efficiency gains are welcomed, but far bigger than that there was also the understanding that customer experience is the last great battleground in a largely commoditized society.

Moving to the Cloud certainly helps with driving those benefits and the audience appreciated that the security in place around Cloud technology is first-rate.

Driving efficiency in quality monitoring

To hone in a little more specifically on the contact center.

There was definitely an appetite to understand how conversational (or interaction) analytics drove efficiencies in the Quality Assurance space.

I could talk about this for hours. But essentially, automating your QA procedures gives you the following benefits:

  • Removes the need to manually analyse interactions which saves you money
  • Provides performance trend data at your fingertips (think call downtime, AHT, FCR, customer emotion and sentiment etc. etc.)
  • Helps you spot process bottlenecks and fix them quickly
  • Focuses training at an agent-level basis (as you get agent-level data points)
  • Can analyse agent emotion to help improve agent well-being which helps with retention
  • Really understand why your customers are contacting you and what your customers want from in new services for example (voice of the customer)

So, without trying to sound too off-hand, Conversational Analytics is an absolute game-changer for your contact center, especially as our customers normally see a ROI within the first 6 months.

It still takes too long to train new agents

Sticking with the contact center. Long agent training cycles are still a massive issue for the industry, especially in banking and FS where there are complex regulatory requirements.

We spoke to many people facing this challenge.

The issue arises due to operational teams having to train agents on the multiple internal processes and systems the business has amassed over the years.

A simple example would be a bank that had different systems for selling different products as well as all the core systems – quite a complicated mess for new agents.

The secret to solving this issue is to train agents on one single process that ties all your systems together. It greatly reduces training length and complexity.

This single-agent desktop accesses all the necessary systems so the agent doesn’t have to, reducing downtime looking for answers for customers and making life easier for the agent.

Enhancing industry opportunities for women

The team attended an excellent session called, ‘When women are their own worst enemies: How to break the cycle of female rivalry’, hosted by Sandy Ko, Kathy Phelps and Dr Hui Wu-Curtis.

It was a thought-provoking and practical session that has left us all considering how we can better support the women in our organisation.

Come and talk to Awaken about your contact center strategy

Thanks again to everyone we connected with.

I look forward to continuing our conversations in the future.

If you would like to discuss how Awaken could help you build a more cohesive, affordable and scalable contact center then don’t hesitate to get in touch.

See you next time.